Humans, Season One, “Episode Three”
Written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley
Directed by Daniel Nettheim
Airs Sundays at 9 pm (ET) on AMC
With the synths who gained consciousness getting separated and scatted in the Humans pilot, much of the subsequent episodes have focused on how the synths have dealt with the aftermath, along with following the trials and tribulations of Leo and Max as the duo try to find them. This week’s episode puts the focus on both Niska and Anita in the aftermath of last week’s ending, examining how the two adjust to their changed circumstances. The result is a strong episode that continues to effectively build the show’s world while opening some fascinating directions for characters to go in.
The uneasy relationship between Laura and Anita continues to be a fascinating aspect of this show. Laura’s discomfort around Anita is complicated by a number of factors, among them Laura’s inability to properly articulate or conclusively prove the reason behind her discomfort of Anita, as well as her natural distrust of the synths as a whole. Her attempts at thawing things with Anita, however conditional, do represent a step forward for the character, and it’ll be intriguing to see how things shape up with her once Max and Leo come along. On one hand, if they approach her with a desire to take Anita away, or even if they do so without Laura’s knowledge, it will give Laura a perfect way out. Saying the synth was taken away or returned to the people it belonged to first would mean that her family wouldn’t hold her actions against her, not even Sophie. On the other hand, Leo and Max turning up would be the first conclusive proof Laura would have that Anita isn’t like other synths, or even that there’s something wrong with her. Whether Laura would rather be proven right about her unease to Joe and Toby, or have Anita out of the family’s life will say a lot about where her discomfort and unease lie, with synths in general or with Anita in particular, which in turn is likely to affect how things shape up with Anita’s fate in general.
It’ll also be intriguing to learn how Anita regards Laura. To date, the only affection Anita has shown has been towards Sophie, with her actions towards Laura and Toby remaining ambiguous as to whether they’re part of her programming or her consciousness pushing through. Mattie’s hack proves that the consciousness Anita gained as Mia has not been wiped away, simply written over. This does throw into question not only whether Anita’s actions towards Laura have simply been part of her programming, but how Anita feels about Laura. Nothing in Anita’s actions so far have indicated any level of malice, and her insistence that Sophie have her bedtime story read to her by Laura suggests a degree of empathy as well. But being able to reconcile empathy towards Laura with a sense of caring for Sophie is something even humans would struggle with. As someone with a relatively unformed consciousness, Anita is not only already disadvantaged, but her consciousness being buried under code makes it even more difficult for her to come to terms with this kind of conflict. How Anita handles things going forward will be worth keeping an eye on. As she tells Laura this week, she knows that Laura will be able to provide Sophie with the love that Anita thinks she cannot provide. However, her affection towards Sophie has also been evident, which may mean that, barring Leo or Mattie being able to bring her consciousness to the fore, Anita will have to determine, with limited resources, whether taking action that she perceives as helping Sophie should take precedence over ensuring Laura’s not unhappy in non-emergency situations, which will be compelling to watch.
Niska’s storyline this week also opens up some exciting new possibilities for the show. Having encountered humans on their worst behaviour as a sex worker, coupled with her feeling abandoned by Leo at the brothel, means that Niska’s dim view of humans as a whole is perfectly understandable. Her still-developing consciousness, however, indicates that she’s still not able to see things in shades of grey, and looks at them in black and white terms coloured by her own experiences to date. While her murder of the pedophile was understandable, she narrowly avoids killing Greg this week due to a misunderstanding, and how this affects her going forward promises to be compelling. The idea of Niska as an avenging angel, who chooses to enact revenge on humans for the slightest transgression could be a worthwhile storyline, not only in seeing how that affects the development of Niska’s consciousness, but in how it affects the perception of synths held by people such as Laura and Pete Drummond. Niska not actually killing Greg, however, is a positive step, and the idea of seeing her navigate the world with nobody to guide her as she learns about human behaviour, while always ensuring that her synth nature is never discovered, is no less promising. No matter what direction Niska’s storyline goes in, the character holds the most potential so far.
Overall, this is another solid episode for the series. The show still appears to be finding its feet, as not all storylines are garnering interest, but the world-building helps prop up the storylines that are. Gemma’s rescue of Toby is a very well-done scene, but the latter character remains under-developed, not really contributing anything to the family dynamic or the relationship they have with Anita. The Dr. Millican storyline continues to be effective in providing another perspective to how humans can relate to synths, and it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts if and when he comes across Leo or a synth with consciousness. On one hand, implanting a consciousness in Odi would allow Dr. Millican to treat Odi more like a son, and make it easier for George to keep Odi hidden, as the synth would be able to grasp the idea of self-survival. On the other hand, Odi is clearly deteriorating, both physically and mentally, and giving him consciousness might do little more than make him aware of the fact, leaving Dr. Millican to deal with a synth who may be bitter towards him for not allowing Odi to die painlessly. The storyline of Pete Drummond and his hatred towards synths also remains unformed, as it’s unclear whether this was spurred by feelings of helplessness brought about by Simon’s presence, or if it’s a festering wound that has only now opened. Whatever the situation, Drummond’s hatred does hold some potential, which makes it worth following, along with the story of Niska and Leo, especially if the latter interacts with Mattie down the line.